To follow on from the last posting, keeping our brains (both left and right) safely in their place, let us return to the idea of myth, with which we began this chapter. Myth is really nothing more than a symbolic communication on a collective or general scale. Communication that comes out of the individual unconscious seems to be in the form of symbols (for example dreams) so it makes sense to use the same terminology to communicate in the other direction.
Early man used myth to make sense of his world, and different cultures used different myths to describe the same events. Take the myth of creation – the Babylonians told of, “The Epic of Gilgamesh”. In it, the world is made of water, and Gilgamesh sets off to slay the chaos dragon. He eventually kills it and cuts it in half, putting half of it below his feet, the earth – and the other half above his head as the firmament, or heaven. Many of us are more familiar with the Jewish or Biblical version, wherein God created heaven and earth in seven days. Myth and stories were also used to explain human behaviour. The Greeks used Pandora’s box to explain the presence of trouble and difficulties in daily life. They then used the story of Persephone eating six pomegranate seeds when they had been forbidden, to explain why we had six months of light and ‘summer’ and 6 months of darkness and ‘winter’. The Jews used Eve’s taking the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in an attempt to explain the presence of hardship in life. The slaying of Abel by Cain, likewise, was the attempt to explain murder in our society. The Tower of Babel was taught to explain why humans had different tongues, and Abram and his children by Sarah and Hagar the two major religions of the time of Judaism and Islaam. Abram himself, scholars decided was not a person at all, but a personification of tribal movements!
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